The present-day Tellefsen Hall is the offspring of several organizations related to the Cal Band of the past. According to most accounts, one of these organizations was Mrs. Roth’s Boarding House on Haste Street, a home to many Band members in the 1950s. Band officers encouraged members to live there, and it also served as a venue for social gatherings for the Band.
According to some accounts, another organization was the Baton Society, a small group started in 1934 to honor dedicated Band members. In addition to sponsoring various social activities, members of the Society often held closed meetings that served as forums for discussion about the Band and its direction. In the 1950s, the meetings were held openly after some Band members complained about the secrecy. By the early 1960s, the Baton Society had faded into Cal Band history.
In the late 1950s, Band members thought that it would be great to have a House that would serve both as living quarters and as a base from which leading Band members could discuss and influence the direction of the Band. After several years of planning and financial haggling, a house on 2421 Prospect Avenue was leased. It opened to thirty Band members in 1960.
It was named for Chris Tellefsen, a friend and mentor to the Band for several decades. Chris Tellefsen had purchased the first non-military uniforms for the Band as an ASUC employee in 1922. While he never was a member of the Band or a student at Cal, he is widely acknowledged as one of the people who helped found the modern Cal Band. In 1931, he was the first person to be awarded an Honorary Lifetime membership.
By the late 1960s, it became obvious that the Prospect Street House was too small to house Band members comfortably. The national decline in college fraternity membership that had occurred during the early 1970s facilitated a deal between Tellefsen Hall and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity: the Prospect Street House (plus $50,000) was given to the fraternity in exchange for the Lambda Chi Alpha House. The latter was much larger, more peaceful, and closer to campus. Cash-strapped and desperate for members, Lambda Chi Alpha accepted the offer on September 4, 1973. To this day, Lambda Chi Alpha still occupies the old Tellefsen Hall on Prospect Street. Band members moved into the new Tellefsen Hall, the present House, for fall quarter, 1973.
Recently, Tellefsen Hall was one of the featured houses on a tour of Berkeley’s historical landmarks. The House, originally called Weltevreden, was built in 1897 for the prominent local banker V. D. Moody. It was designed by A. C. Schweinfurth, the famous architect who also designed the Hearst mansion. It was one of very few structures that survived the 1923 Berkeley fire. The 2nd floor, 3rd floor, and kitchen/library wing were added in 1956.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Tellefsen Hall served an important role once again as a leadership and social base for band members. Tellefsen Hall was almost always full to capacity (44 members), especially during the late 1980s. There was a major housing shortage in the area and it was common for students to join the Band just so that they could live in Tellefsen Hall.
With the construction of the Foothill dormitories and the implementation of the guaranteed housing policy for freshmen, House membership saw a gradual decline in the 1990s. To solve this dilemma, the Board of Directors voted to allow women to move into the House in the fall of 1993. The very next year, house membership rebounded.
In 2002, the Association completed an $850,000 retrofit and renovation project designed to strengthen the core structure of the building and improve the existing facilities.
Additional information on the history of the house can be found here.